Our speaker for January 22nd, 2008 was Diane Izatt, Director, from the Thayne Senior Center.

For 17 years, the Thayne Senior Center was considered a satellite meal site of the Star Valley Senior Citizens, Inc. of Afton, WY. Lunch was served daily at the J-H Ranch Café. In October of 1998, with the Town of Thayne, a grant was obtained for a Town Hall/Senior Center building. On the 15th of December 1999, the Thayne Senior Center opened, for the benefit of the Senior Citizens in the Thayne community. Our growth has greatly exceeded projected figures. Currently on our computer roster, we have serviced 1521 unduplicated individuals within our service area. We do not see any potential increases in funding but the demand for services continues to grow rapidly.

The Thayne Senior Center offers services which enable our patrons to remain as independent as possible in his/her own residence preventing premature institutionalization. The goal of the Thayne Senior center is to enhance the quality of life for the older citizens of our community, in a positive,friendly atmosphere. The Thayne Senior Center is a multi-resource community center for any individual over the age of 60.

The Thayne Senior Center is also used as a community center hosting meetings, weddings, receptions, company parties, etc. Our facility is constantly busy helping those organizations or businesses that need places to meet. We are as accommodating as possible to help meet the needs of the community.

The Thayne Senior Center's most important aspect is our Meals-on-Wheels program. We provide hot, nutritious, attractive meals to homebound individuals in our service area 5 days a week, which are delivered to the clients' home. In order to insure that the meals are delivered as hot and fresh as possible we have cold insulated bags and heated meal containers. However, the insulated bags and meal containers wear down from use and need to be replaced. Since our objective is to help our seniors feel
independent, comfortable, and cared for as much as possible, this service is vitally important. In some cases, the Meals-on-Wheels delivery person is the only person that they see for the day and they may not eat a healthy balanced meal without the hot meal delivery. We do not have paid drivers to deliver this crucial service. Instead, we are fortunate to have wonderful volunteers, who enjoy delivering the meals for us. These volunteers also help lower our costs and keep meal expenses at a minimum for our seniors.

The other services we provide are as follows:
Congregate meals Monday-Friday, bus transportation; this includes errands, doctor's appointments and grocery shopping. Monthly Free Blood Pressure Clinics, Pneumonia and Flu shot clinics, Blood Draw discount coupons, Foot Care Clinics, & Free Audiology Clinics. Senior Education Classes: Knitting, crocheting, wills, exercise, gardens, flowers, internet class, and computer Classes, health lectures, and 55 Alive Driving class. We also provide socialization activities: (quilting day, cards, day trips, etc.) We also provide loan items free of charge -crutches, canes, wheelchairs, books and videos.

We try to focus our service on the low-income seniors, hoping to make a difference in their lives. Helping people in need truly makes our work worthwhile. We support and encourage all that wish to participate regardless of their financial situation. The Congregate Meal Program merges various individuals from the local community with that of a rapidly growing retirement community. The last State census shows a 25% increase in the age bracket (60 and older) in our county. This influx of "snowbirds" causes our Senior Center to stretch to its utmost limits. In our dining room, we have 13 tables we can set up to accommodate the tremendous crowds we feed in the summertime. Also, we have outdoor seating on the patio when the weather permits. And still, we are asked when we are expanding our facility, because many times there is not enough room for the many people we serve in
the summertime. We have decided that we do need to expand the seating for our summertime crowds but we are in need of some extra funds to do so.

Wyoming Association of Senior Project Directors
Wyoming's Senior Centers: Fact Sheet - January 2008


Wyoming's 40 senior centers are on the front lines of providing high quality, cost-effective services for Wyoming's more than 77,000 residents 60 and older (2000 U.S. Census). Wyoming senior centers are often the first point of contact seniors and their families encounter in the continuum of long-term care services and as a result, end up saving the state millions by
keeping seniors in their own homes and communities as they age and out of costly, traditional facilities.

Each year in Wyoming, senior centers and projects serve an estimated 1.2 million home delivered or on-site meals. They also provide a wide variety of services, including: transportation; preventative health services; in-home services (personal care, meal preparation, household chore service); family caregiver support; promotion/facilitation of the LIEAP and Tax Rebate
for the Elderly and Disabled programs; and a wide variety of coordinated services with community partners.

After years of stagnant, patchwork funding (a wide mix of local, county, state and federal funding that varied from center to center) the legislature stepped in and provided significant state funding. The Wyoming Senior Services Board (WSSB) was created to administer this funding. However, much of the additional funding has been needed to simply catch up from years of under funded services and facilities. As one of the most rapidly aging states in the nation, Wyoming will need to expand senior services funding to adequately deal with the anticipated wave of retiring baby boomers in the near future.

Wyoming Senior Center Director Survey Results:

In September of 2007, the Wyoming Association of Senior Project Directors conducted a comprehensive survey of all Wyoming senior center directors to better ascertain current concerns and future needs. About 36 projects participated in the survey. The following survey responses were recorded:

Competitive Wages and Employment:

All directors surveyed, indicate that their top-of-mind concern is how to offer and maintain competitive wages to attract and retain quality employees.

60 percent of all senior centers believe that they cannot compete in their local job markets for qualified employees. Centers cannot afford to offer the competitive salaries or benefits offered by the energy, service and health care sectors.

67 percent of all senior centers employ less than ten workers; 13 percent employ between 10 and 19; 13 percent employ between 20 and 29 and only 7 percent employ 30 or more workers.

Most senior center directors voiced a strong concern about how they will cope with new minimum wage requirements over the next two years as minimum wages will raise from $5.50 per hour now to $7.25 in July 2009.

Directors report that kitchen or food service workers and Certified Nurses Assistants are the toughest to retain and recruit in this competitive environment.

Composition of Wyoming Senior Center Budgets:

  • Federal funding makes up 24% of the total Wyoming senior centers' budgets. This federal source is from Older Americans Act programs and Nutrition Services Incentive programs.
  • State Funding for Older American Act programs makes up 4%.
  • The Community Based In-Home Services (CBIHS) program is totally state funded and contributes 8%.
  • The Wyoming Senior Services Board (WSSB) contributes 12%.
  • Program Income is local money that seniors contribute for services they receive from the various program offerings. The percentage of program income makes up 20% of total funding.
  • Support from the towns, counties and local agencies makes up 16%.
  • Transit funding makes up 8% (both state and federal sources).
  • Donations, and fundraising efforts in our local communities contribute 8%.

It is interesting to note that all local sources of funding (program income, support from towns and counties, local agencies, donations and fundraising efforts in local communities) account for nearly one fourth or 24% of Wyoming's total senior center budgets.

Employee Benefits:

Only 25% of Wyoming senior centers offer health care insurance to workers. 69 percent offer some form of retirement benefits (most participate in the state's retirement system).

Increasing Costs:

All senior center directors reported that costs associated with the preparation and provision of meal services have increased by at least 10 percent.

When asked how centers are adjusting for the increased cost in meal services, a variety of solutions were identified including: Leaving unfilled positions open; increased fundraising; looking to local government entities; donations; Wyoming Senior Services Board funds; not serving some meal items; increasing meal donation requests; and freezing salary increases, etc.

When asked how recent increases in fuel prices have affected their budgets and what steps they are taking to cope with the increases, senior center directors replied with a variety of strategies: Leaving positions open; WSSB funds used for increase; cut back or eliminate trips out of town; considering or have increased donation amount for both transit and meals; no raises, and raise additional funds.

In addition to increased food service and fuel costs, nearly all senior center directors identified increased utility, administrative, building maintenance, and insurance costs as major concerns.

Policy Recommendations:

In the upcoming 2008 Budget Session, the Wyoming Association of Senior Project Directors supports a request of $ 1.4 million in funding per year ($2.8 million for the biennium) for Wyoming's senior centers. Funding will be used to meet the current demands mentioned in the survey and to prepare for the anticipated influx of retiring baby-boomers, allowing seniors to age in place in their own homes and communities with dignity.

Contacts: Jeri Bottenfield, 532-2796, and Jeanine Cox, 352-6737

You can see their web site at http://www.ThayneSenior.com.